Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Pick-up confusion

When I posted about a “bus confusion” problem I was having in picking up Jesse at his bus stop and the little girl I’m babysitting, a friend of mine offered to help out by picking up the little girl and bringing her to the bus stop since her kids get out of that school at the same time. That has been working out pretty well. It has definitely meant less stress and anxiety in trying to be in two places at the same time. My friend is definitely awesome for offering to help out.

And while it has caused less stress, it seemed to have caused a bit of confusion.

My friend doesn’t have a cell phone for me to text her at, so we’ve been using Facebook to get in touch with each other. (And, yes, we both have email, but for some reason, we use Facebook instead of email!) We normally keep tabs on who needs to be where before all the kids are out of school. And, also, I explained to her what days are not a problem for me to pick them both up, since the times they get out on those days are different. But as it is with every busy mom, messages tend to get lost in the clouds somewhere.

That’s what happened today. Today, Wednesday, is one day I am able to pick the little girl up, because Jesse gets out of school before she does. So Wednesdays are no problem.

And so there I was at the school parking lot, once again stuck amid ALL of those cars, people and buses, WAITING for a chance to get closer so the little girl could see me. now, sometimes she’ll walk along the line of cars (rolls eyes) to find me, but she didn’t so that today, and I was curious about that.

Then I realized, uh-oh! What if my friend picked her up and they were ... gone? At the bus stop, wondering where I was??

But I had to move up closer to find out for sure. Sometimes my friend is busy talking with teachers or people and she doesn’t leave right away. So MAYBE there was a chance she was still here – along with the little girl.

Well, I FINALLY made it up closer to the front of the school (20 minutes after release! GAH!!) and there she was. Phew! What a relief! But I saw my friend’s daughters, too ... and not my friend. I wondered what was keeping her, but didn't dwell on it too much. So the little girl climbed into my car and we all waved/said goodbye as I drove off.

Then when we got to my house and Jesse and the little girl were settled in, I walked into the kitchen to make myself some lunch. While the food was in the microwave, a thought struck me: What if my friend HAD been at the school, and I just hadn’t seen her? Hm, that was something I had to take care of. So I walked back to the little girl and asked her about it. She nodded and said that, yes, my friend had been there and was busy talking with a teacher.

And I was like “oh” then walked back into the kitchen, took my lunch out of the microwave and calmly started to eat it – when a thought struck me and I almost choked on that first bite! Did I SERIOUSLY just drive off with a child my friend was PLANNING on driving to the bus stop WITHOUT letting her know I’d been there?? GAH!!

I ran back to the little girl and asked her if my friend KNEW she was leaving with me. She said she wasn’t sure but also said that I might show up to pick her up.

Well, yeah, I DID. But my friend didn’t know that! Oh my God! Did I just leave my friend in a state of panic, turning around and wondering why a child was missing??? Oh my God!

I grabbed my phone and pushed the button for Facebook to load. While I was waiting, I wanted to bang my hand against my head and yell at myself, “Idiot! Idiot! Idiot!”

Believe me, when you’re a parent, then even when you have a child who is not yours in your care, those parenting instincts take over! You watch that child like a hawk, just like you’d watch your own. You’d protect that child, make sure that child is safe and that everything is fine. And I’d just driven right off with ONE child under someone else’s supervision without so much as a fare thee well! Ugh! Epic fail!

Well, I got on Facebook, then messaged my friend an apology, explaining what had happened and how I hadn’t thought about finding her and letting her know the little girl was with me now. “I am soooo sorry,” I typed. “Please don’t hate me.”

Message sent, I tried to calm myself down, but it wasn’t easy. I finished my lunch, though I couldn’t enjoy it as much, then paced around the house while I waited to hear back from her.

And, finally, I did. My friend said everything was okay and that her daughters had told her I picked the little girl up. And she wasn’t mad.

Oh, phew! I was soooo relieved. But next time, I need to be a little more careful about that. I am glad my friend recognized I’d just committed a little faux pas and was so understanding and forgiving about it. The important thing is, no harm was done and all children were safe.  

Friday, October 25, 2013

Happy 6th Birthday to Jesse!

Today my son, Jesse, turned 6 years old. Happy Birthday, Jesse! According to my daughter, Jesse is now officially a "little kid."

We will be celebrating a big birthday bash with friends tomorrow for Jesse's B-day, but for today, we had a little celebration. What's interesting is that, for Jen's birthday, she first had a little cake on her special day (which was on a school day), then 12 cupcakes for her 12th birthday party with friends. For Jesse, we switched things around. Today, he had 6 cupcakes with his family and, tomorrow, he'll have a cake! (I think it's funny that one child is 6 and the other is 12. Kinda like the year they were 10-4 and I often joked they were "10-4, good buddy" when asked about their ages. LOL! This year, I have a half dozen and a full dozen!)

Jesse also got presents. Yay! Here are pictures from his special day, as well ones of him with his presents.

The very first present he opened!

Jesse signing that he is 6.

Jesse climbing a tree while waiting for the school bus.
Blowing out his birthday candles.
Jesse has been asking to be signed up for soccer for months. The boy loves soccer! He was excited to get his very first and his very own soccer ball today.
An Angry Birds hat from Mom and Dad. Perfect for the coming winter cold!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Bus confusion

“What is it with me and buses?”  I grumbled to myself today. I don’t know WHY but something keeps going on when it involves a bus – whether it’s a city bus or a school bus. (I’ve ridden the Greyhound bus but don’t recall anything bad happening then. But still!) Maybe this being the first day means I need to work things out, but who knows.

Well, today, Jesse started riding the bus to and from school. Before today, I asked the secretary arranging bus transport about the bus stops and locations, since Jesse has PM kindergarten so it might be different. I was told the bus stop was the same one Jennifer went to when she was riding the bus to that school – but this time the secretary pointed out that pick-up was on the WEST side of the street, not the east side. But I didn’t so much pay attention to that. I was more concerned about Jesse’s ride BACK.

And I guess I had good reason to be!

This morning, as we patiently waited on the corner for his bus, it happened that we were on the wrong side of the street! (East side.) But the bus driver seemed to know Jesse was her ride so she waited as we crossed the street then came up to the bus. Before Jesse got on the school bus, I confirmed this was indeed going to his school and she pointed Jesse out by name. She talked to Jesse a few minutes then explained to me that she always picked up for his school on this side of the street. I thanked her for the information, told Jesse goodbye again, then stepped back as the doors closed and the bus drove off.

I figured that was that. No more bus problems for today. Wow, if only!

When it was time for Jesse to return on his bus, I first had to pick up a child I was babysitting today, because she gets out of school before Jesse’s bus arrives. Now, the problem is that, whenever I pick her up from school, it takes FOREVER to finally get to her at her school pick-up area because of all the cars, people and school buses. I mean, it gets crowded, and it usually takes me 10-15 minutes to FINALLY reach her! So I decided on a plan: I would get there right when school let out, park the car and get out to go find her. Thankfully, I did find her in good time, though we stopped to chat briefly with a friend. By the time I got to my car, I checked the time: I had 2 minutes to get to Jesse’s bus stop for his drop-off!

I got there in three. And right when I pulled up, I noticed a school bus driving away down the road. I panicked! I thought, Oh my God! Did I miss him??  I couldn’t see Jesse ANYWHERE. Would he wait for me or start walking home? And how far would he get in one minute if he DID walk?

I took off in the car, driving all around the neighborhood, slowly scanning the park as we drove past it (the park is down the street from the bus stop as well as down the street from my house). I didn’t see him! I started to panic. I circled the bus stop again. No Jesse. On my drive back, I rolled down windows and the little girl and I started calling for him as I drove. We didn’t see him anywhere!

At one point, I pulled over, got my phone out of my purse and contacted the secretary. We both thought maybe Jesse forgot to get on the bus or maybe he missed it or … something! I let her know I could not find him at the bus stop.

Then I started driving again. My heart was pounding in my chest. I was so scared my little boy was kidnapped or something! (We don’t exactly live in Mayberry!) I was scared to death and I knew I would never forgive myself if anything happened to him. I could not imagine a future without my little boy. And it was not safe for him to walk home alone; he’s only 5! I was driving and praying. Please, God, help me find my son. I was just so wracked with worry.

The little girl suggested I check the house again but then I had a feeling to check the bus stop one more time. So I drove back over there and, thank God, THERE was Jesse’s bus pulling up at the corner!! I had not missed his bus! That other bus was not his; THIS bus was his! Oh, thank God. We were SO relieved. I was a bit irked his bus was late (by 10 minutes! They seemed to tick away so slowly as I was frantically searching for him!) but there it was at last. I was so thrilled at the sight of my sweet boy stepping off the school bus. I was smiling and waving at him as he walked over to the car and both I and the little girl sent up prayers of thanks. And when my son got to my door, I just hugged him and kissed him so much. I was SO glad to see him! Of course, he was confused by my actions but he just smiled and hugged me back, too.

That incident really scared me. It’s always scary when you don’t know where your child is. I am just so relieved he was okay and that nothing happened.

Well, later on, I talked with my husband about it. He was bothered that I was a minute late to the bus stop but then he said, “You can’t do everything.” I know I can’t. I know I have to figure something out. I won't compromise the safety of my children – or the children in my care. I need to figure something out for both of them.

I also talked to the little girl’s mom. She agreed it was a scary experience. I asked her about an idea on a certain “pick-up schedule” for both kids but she hasn’t gotten back to me on that yet. But I know we need to get our heads together and figure something out.

I am only glad that today had a happy ending.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Some people are just annoying

Today something happened that made me feel REALLY annoyed. I have been debating whether or not to blog about this, but since this blog is about stuff that happens in my life today, here goes.

First off, a question: WHY do some people think they should walk up to a complete stranger and suggest they DO something – which, I might add, is something so freaking OBVIOUS to do that it’s not really all that important to even suggest it in the first place?? Or was this lady just trying to tell me what to do? NOBODY tells me what to do! I tell myself what to do! And that’s part of the reason why I was VERY annoyed.

Now, some explanation:

I was running late picking my son up from school today. The reason why is because I had to run to the bathroom first (ugh! Why do I always have to use the bathroom at the WORST possible time??) and, second, I had to spend a few minutes prying my phone out of my preteen daughter’s clutches. (I don’t feel comfortable leaving the house without my pone. I have a knack for being the “damsel in distress” and so prefer having my phone with me in case of emergency.) Well, I finally got to the school to pick Jesse up, but I was 15 minutes late. If I am 10 minutes late, his teacher takes him to the office where he has to wait for me there. Now the office has this GINORMOUS glass wall/doors in front and you can easily see cars parked out front. So what I usually do if I can’t get out of the car to get Jesse is I park in front of the building, honk my horn and he’ll come running out a few minutes later. That’s what I did today. But before Jesse came out of the building, this lady who I DO NOT KNOW came up to my window with her three sons in tow and asked me if I was waiting for someone. I told her “my son” and she said, “Why don’t you go into the office to get him yourself?”

And right about then is where I got angry. I’m talking Incredible Hulk angry! I wanted to scream at her, “I KNOW I CAN GO INTO THE OFFICE TO GET HIM MYSELF, LADY!! I’LL DO THAT ON MY OWN TIME! PISS OFF!!” I mean, really, I was ready to bite her head off.

I DID NOT want to get into details about how I have a bad foot and I try to avoid walking/running on it unless I absolutely have to. (Still need to see a podiatrist! Ack!) And I really didn’t feel I had to share with this woman that I usually wait so many minutes before parking the car and going into the office to get my son. I did not know this woman and I did not owe her a single explanation for anything at all. And I was pretty mad that she felt she had a right to get all in my business and tell me what to do.

Instead, I smiled sweetly, lowered my tone of voice and suggested SHE go into the office herself. She gave me a dirty look and walked off with her boys with this whole “what a lazy mom” kind of attitude.

It took every ounce of resistance not to give her the finger as she walked off.

Well, anyway, I did wait a few more minutes, then decided it was time to go in and see what was holding Jesse up. That was then my son appeared out the door. When he got to the car, I asked him what had taken so long and he explained he forgot to zip up his lunch box and so, when he picked it up, everything had fallen out. (That’s right, folks: He skipped the sandwich his mother had lovingly made for him for lunch, passed on the crackers and apple and, instead, ate the cookie and drank his juice!)

I was really mad at that woman for what she did but eventually got over it. I just really wish SOME people would mind their own business. I do things the way I do them for a reason and, like I said, I don’t owe complete strangers an explanation for anything.

And, anyway, I don’t think I’ll have to deal with people like her again anymore when I pick my son up from school. Jesse starts riding the school bus tomorrow. I just need to make sure I’m not late getting there!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

My new book and another trip to a pumpkin patch!

Last week was not an easy week for me. It was filled with appointments and meetings. I started to feel like I was constantly jumping in and out of the car! There was that plus work on the books plus working the new job. So it was a little crazy-busy. But the good news is, I FINALLY finished working on a book I’ve been working on for 3 years! It’s finally done! YAY!

But, still, I wanted this weekend to be “fun.” Last week was just so hectic and I wanted the weekend to mean less craziness and more good times.

And you know what? It’s definitely been a weekend of good times. Even though I was bummed a party that was planned for the weekend got postponed. The weekend turned out to be pretty awesome after all.

On Saturday, my novel, Shadow of Samhain, was published. YAY!! I was so very excited this book is out now. I spent the day updating my web site and doing a bit of promo work. It’s funny, but I did web site updates that morning, then I got the email that my novel was now live, so I did web site updates again! (This time, to move the novel from the “Coming soon" page to the page where all my books are.) So that was pretty cool.

Then I got a text from my friend, Kim, inviting me and the kids to go with her and her daughter to the pumpkin patch – and it was “her treat” for us. Oh, wow! I told her yes! Of course! We’d love to go! So we went today.

At the pumpkin patch, which is actually the other one out by where Jesse went last week, we got to see the animals (goats, chickens and horses) and the kids pet and fed the goats. We LOVED the goats! They were so cool! (Of course, I love horses, too, so I was glad to see them.)  We also got ice cream and then the kids got to pan for “treasure” in the mining area. I took pictures of them posing at the “old timey” buildings. We had a blast with that!

While waiting in line to ride the tractor out to the pumpkin patch, the kids wanted to play in the playground. First I chatted with my friend in line while we watched the kids play then, as the line started to move away from them, I decided to go over and keep a closer eye on the kids. Of course, the carousel was the popular thing to play on. There were so many kids on that thing! The problem was, Jesse kept climbing on and off of it. At one point, he fell off. I told him to move because he was next to the carousel but he did not move fast enough. First he was dragged away by one kid’s feet sticking out from the spinning carousel then, to my horror, kids ran right over him! “Stop! Stop!” I cried. The carousel stopped and the kids jumped off. Jennifer and I ran through them to get to where Jesse was on the ground, crying. We both checked him over to see if he was okay and I was thinking My God, what if he is seriously hurt? After he stopped crying and gathered himself together, he jumped back onto the carousel to play again. Jennifer and I exchanged knowing looks, the same looks we have after the MANY times Jesse fell, slipped, ran into something, crashed, etc., and sprang right back to life again and we both said, “He’s fine.” But, still, I made a mental note to keep an eye on him. He might have bruising or pain later on. And I guess I looked pretty freaked out because one of the dads came over to me to calm me down and assure me Jesse was fine. I nodded my thanks to him but in my mind, I still saw my 5-year-old son being trampled. Jennifer was mad at the kids for running over her little brother. After Jesse fell off the carousel again, he would not move upon my instruction so I pulled him away and decided it was time to join my friend waiting in line for the tractor ride.

Then we rode the tractor out to the pumpkin patch. (Jesse LOVED the tractor! He kept running back to the one on display and climbing on!) On the ride, Jesse started talking with a little boy wearing hearing aids. I told the mother that I am deaf and that Jesse knows sign but she shook her head and said that her son doesn't use sign language. I was curious how she was communicating with her little boy and she confirmed that he reads lips. I was concerned about this, because lipreading is not an easy skill to master and it can take years of practice to be good at lipreading (as a teen, I lipread AND signed, as I do today), so I didn't think this was a good idea for a child. As it was, I noticed how he had trouble understanding Jesse and how the mom took over the conversation. (ARGH!!!!!) I was curious why they didn't use sign language, but decided that was none of my business so I didn't say anything more about the subject. During the tractor ride, we each got pumpkins (earlier, our friend bought the kids smaller pumpkins). On the way back, the tractor came to a stop. We were all trying to figure out what was going on. After a few minutes, Jennifer signed that the tractor broke down. I panicked, thinking we were ALL going to have to walk ALL the way back with our pumpkins! Some of us were carrying HUGE pumpkins! Gah! But then Jen laughed and said/signed, "He's faking." Sure enough, the tractor started up again. Whew! I was relieved but had to chuckle over the joke. After we got back, we paid for our pumpkins. Then it was time to go.

Jesse was not exactly on his best behavior while we were at the pumpkin patch, but despite this, and despite my son getting trampled, we had a great time. It was our first time at that farm! We really enjoyed visiting there and I’m so grateful to my friend for inviting us. We have even more pumpkins in our house now (with hopefully another one coming tomorrow) and I joke we’re being invaded by pumpkins! But, hey, it’s October, and I’m glad we were able to get pumpkins from a local farm.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Why we need social media

For the longest time, I have had a love/hate relationship with social media. I don’t use ALL of the social media sites and rarely will I ever participate at Google+. But I love the social media sites I DO use – Twitter and Facebook – because they’ve been great to stay connected with people. I HAVE been tempted to leave them either because I have had problems with people who were being jerks or my friends’ complaints about “evil social media” starting to frighten me. But then I figured, heck, I’ve been on this long, why stop now?

And I have seen how social media has been helpful to people. It’s helped to bust criminals, put together clues on things that have happened to people, as well as get messages across that the public at large could not be prone to. (Journalists DO use tweets and Facebook pics/posts in their stories.) Today, I saw how using social media can be VERY helpful.

I am reviewing this nonfiction book for Night Owl Reviews that is a woman’s true story of different things that have happened in her life that drew her closer to God. (Good book, by the way!) In one chapter that I read today, she recounted a terrifying experience she and her friends went through that they were lucky to survive. On a holiday in an Australian rainforest, the driver lost control of their car and it flew into a deep part of the forest, front-first, and nearly sank into the mud. They survived that crash and pushed their car out of the mud, but the car was out of gas so they couldn’t use it to get out of there. So they started walking – and ended up getting lost. In a rainforest. None of them had a cell phone, as well as no food, radio or water. For hours, they trekked through the woods, and then they got lost. They were freezing, scared, starving, bruised from the crash, dehydrated and had no way to call for any help. The author of this story said that no one knew where they were so they would not come looking for them, and no one would know for several more hours that they were lost.

By that time, they might be dead.

As I read this, I thought, Well, what if one of them had been posting about their adventures on Twitter? And a friend realized that the posts stopped, or there was no blog posts or pics on Instagram, and realize something was wrong?

But then I remembered that this person’s story took place several years ago – before Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and blogs. (Well, the blogs we know today.) No one would have updated or posted about ANYTHING on social media, because there WAS no social media at that time!

This gave me pause. It also made me grateful that we DO have social media. Thank God for people who post about their vacations and their adventures! That’s how other people – their friends, family and colleagues – can keep tabs on them. So often I have checked out the Twitter or Facebook page of someone I’ve lost touch with, or even their blogs, to see if they’re still alive. You know? I mean, social media is a great way for us to keep tabs on each other and be more aware of if something is wrong.

So, yes, I AM glad we have social media today. Maybe those college kids would have had a better chance of some friend thinking something was wrong because there weren’t any tweets or Facebook posts. (Smartphones make it possible for us to do that no matter where we are – another thing to be thankful for!)

In the end, one of the group who was still strong went on ahead and got help. They were rescued. But I think if they’d been using social media to post about their adventures and stuff, maybe it would be less worry for people who get lost because there is a chance someone following their posts would see no recent updates or tweets or anything, and realize they might be in danger and need some help.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Volunteering for a field trip

Today, my son went on his very first kindergarten field trip. We were both excited about it, but I was also nervous. He was going to ride on that big bus and go to a big farm where he’d be walking through a big pumpkin patch! Eek! My baby! So of course, I volunteered to go along on the field trip. When Jennifer was Jesse’s age, she was a tough little kiddo, so I didn’t worry about her at all. (She’s STILL tough, too! She once punched a boy who was fighting with one of her friends. Yep, my daughter has fists, and she knows how to use them!) But with Jesse, I did worry. I just HAD to be with him.

Even though I’ve been struggling with a bad cough for over a week. I STILL had to be with him for this field trip! So I volunteered. It was the first time I ever volunteered to go on a field trip, so I was a little excited, too. (Later, I realized this would be a good experience, because in one of the stories I just wrote, my characters go on a field trip and there are a couple of parents who volunteered to go on the trip, too, so I got a better idea of just what that kinda thing is like.) I was very close to canceling, though, because of my cough, but then I learned that I just wasn’t gonna be tagging along here. Oh, no! I was gonna have a job! I had to help out!

I was assigned four children to be responsible for, and Jesse was among them. I couldn’t back out, now! Good thing I’d brought extra cough drops along with me. (The cough syrup I started taking today and the cough drops are not a huge help, but they do help a little bit. And, thankfully, my cough was not as bad while I was on the trip.)

When we got on the bus, I let Jesse pick where we would sit. And he just HAD to pick a seat that was at one of the emergency exits! I saw that and thought, ‘Oh, no.’ I remembered an essay in a book written by my friend, Tara Chevrestt, about how she was forced to change seats on a flight because she is deaf and was sitting next to an emergency exit, and the airline staff wouldn’t allow her to sit next to an emergency exit because she is deaf. Even though Tara KNEW how to easily open an emergency exit on a plane, they still made her move, because she’s deaf! I hoped that nobody would make me move from my seat just because I was a deaf person sitting next to the emergency exit. I mean, I understand why they do it, but it’s just really annoying. I’d probably get a little mad about it.

But, thankfully, nobody pointed any fingers saying, “Hey! That deaf woman is sitting next to the emergency exit! We’re all doomed!” Nobody asked me to move. And I was grateful for that!

On the way to the farm we went out to, I saw another farm I’ve been trying to figure out how to get to, because they have a harvest celebration going on later this month and I want to take the kids this year for sure. I saw it and was like, ‘Oh, there it is.’

When we got to the farm, I was taken aback at just how HUGE it is! There’s a store selling things grown on the farm, and the animals of course, but A LOT of acres and so many things planted. There was the cornfield, assorted flowers, assorted trees and vegetables, and a ginormous pumpkin patch! It was just so big. Looking around, I started to wonder if people who worked there needed to carry a map so they didn’t get lost!

We got on a hay truck, sitting on bales of hay, and rode out to the pumpkin patch. I made sure I had all four of my young charges with me the whole time, as well as when we went through the pumpkin patch looking for pumpkins. It was wet and muddy! (The teacher was smart to wear mud boots.) I helped all four of the kids with cleaning off their chosen pumpkins and placing their pumpkins into their bags. Jesse and one other boy in the group selected big pumpkins, which I ended up carrying for them later on when it was time to leave. (I was not allowed to, because the kids have to be able to carry their own pumpkins, but I felt bad for them, especially the little boy who had to keep sitting his big pumpkin down.)

We adults also worked together to keep track of all the kids and help them out. It was just such a positive and welcoming environment. One other mom had volunteered as well as the teacher aide and it was just a great feeling of acceptance and teamwork among us all. I was grateful to them for their kindness and smiles.

After the kids got pumpkins, we all took pictures as they checked out the scarecrow, fed the goats, visited the rabbits, saw the chickens and played in a little play area. We all had a great time.

Then it was time to go back to the school. Boo-hoo! We didn’t want to leave. While I did pick up on a sad feeling while I was in the pumpkin patch, I really enjoyed visiting that farm and found it so hard to leave. It was like I couldn’t pull myself away from there! I wanted to run through the mud! Go out into the fields! Be among all those growing plants and all those roaming animals! It’s so fun to visit a farm and I could just stay there all day.

But we did have to leave. I am grateful for this experience. It was awesome! Jesse and I have pictures and a video I made to remember his field trip with, and a nice pumpkin he’ll get to carve for Halloween.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Halloween decorating

Yesterday, we decorated the house for a party Jennifer was having with her friends. This morning, those decorations came down. Later in the day, different decorations went up: Halloween decorations. Yay! I LOVE Halloween and I love Halloween decorations even more! Some of them can be neat, spooky and just celebrate the time of the year.

I think we overdid it with the pumpkins, though. But the pumpkins are a good Fall decoration, too.

One of Jen’s friends spent the night so she helped create and put up the decorations. It took me a while to find them all; I had them in two different boxes in two different areas of the garage. Once we had them all, they were all set out. Unfortunately, the witch decoration I had last year broke, so I’m hoping to get another one soon. You can’t have Halloween decorations without a witch! Or even a black cat. And maybe a monster.

But with what we have now, I was pretty satisfied with it. Jennifer likes it, too, but agreed we could use a bit more.

This year, I decided not to do spider webs, even though Jesse has a giant toy spider we could use for that. That might change later, though.

The kids made the ghosts out of paper. I know they could have made them with crepe paper, white bags or even coffee filters, but they really wanted to make them with paper so I told them to go ahead. Jesse also drew ghosts, as well as a pumpkin and a bat. He made a bat wearing a hat!

Just a note: Later, I moved the ghost to the front, under the hanging pumpkin, and in its place I put a pumpkin that Jesse had decorated when he was in preschool.

 Here's a close-up of the mantle.

After the decorations were done, I put on the movie The Nightmare Before Christmas and made hot dogs for lunch. While the food was cooking, I noticed Jennifer walking zombie-like. I asked her if she was practicing her zombie walk. She laughed and said “yes.” To which I replied, “That’s not how you do it. This is how you do it.” Then I started doing the Thriller dance. She and her friend laughed and did the Thriller dance, too.

When it was time to eat, I noticed that one end on one of the hot dog buns looked like it was chopped off. I held it up to the kids, made a scary face and said, “This one got decapitated. Eek!”

Later on, I was looking at pics I took from the party. In the group pic, the face of Jennifer’s friend was blurred. I asked her to look at it. I told her it was creepy and I freaked out because all of a sudden I was thinking of that movie, The Ring. But, of course, there was a logical explanation: Her friend had moved her head when I took the pic.

Jen’s friend left before the movie was over. After that movie, I put on Corpse Bride. One of my favorite scenes in that movie is when the Bonejangles sing the story of the Corpse Bride. Later, I was thinking about the doomed bride's plight, trying to imagine how I would feel if such a thing happened to me. I would probably have a broken heart, too, but then I’d realize something much more worse than being dead: Having to spend the afterlife wearing a dress! NOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

An unanswered question

Before I get into this blog post’s subject, let me first say that I truly feel it is important to live in the moment. Focus on right now, this very day. And not the past. I wish I could say I am completely that person, but there are times I revisit things from my past and grumble over WHY certain things happened or wishing I could change things. Especially with people who aren’t alive anymore. But I always have to STOP myself and just change my focus. Get back into the present. And this is what I TRY to do, every day. Focus on the present.

But it seems that sometimes, things from my past tend to creep up on me, even things that I have not thought about for a long time. Even little things.

And that’s the case with something that came up recently, and that brings me to the subject of this blog post.

Last week, I noticed certain elements popping up that reminded me of something from December 2006. At that time, I was divorced and did not have transportation, so I was going through bus training to learn how to ride the city bus. (Up until then, I’d NEVER used public transportation to get around, and while I DID walk sometimes to get where I needed to go, weather here in Oregon, where it gets icy and sometimes snows in the winter, made getting into a vehicle for transportation a necessity.) So, yeah, I was going through bus training. It was not going very well, and on one particular evening, I climbed aboard the wrong bus. When the bus got to the bus station, I noticed there was just one other passenger sitting in the front. He was talking with the bus driver. At one point, he looked at me, then looked back at the bus driver to resume conversation. I realized the bus was back at the station for good. And that I’d gotten on the wrong bus.

So I walked up to the front and asked the bus driver if he was taking the bus out again and he said he was going home. I chuckled over my mistake then asked him about what bus would get me to West 11th, which was where I lived at that time. He gave me a number as he pointed in the direction of the RIGHT bus and I flew off that bus, the wrong bus, into the direction of the right one. All that time I was running, I was FOCUSED on getting to the bus. I was thinking, Must get on bus! Must get on bus!

Now there are two things in this story that I must point out. One is that the guy at the front of the bus LOOKED like someone – a certain singer. A singer by the name of Jordan Knight. And, as I ran to the other bus, I later, MUCH later, realized a guy I saw sitting on a bench on my path to the right bus ... kinda looked like his brother, Jonathan.

But I did not know that for sure. Not at that time. I didn’t recognize them. I am terrible at recognizing people, especially people I don’t know well. I mean, it COULD have been them, but if it was, why were they there? And don’t they have their own transportation?

Of course, I could think maybe they were there for a reason, and that reason could have something to do with a certain incident further back in time. (And as for that incident, I’m not even sure anymore if it was what I thought it was, despite what I found out. But that’s for a whole ‘nother blog post.)

Now the only thing that started bugging me again was that MAYBE that was them! And I did not recognize them. So why not find out if they had been there at that time? The reason why I was bugged about this again was because of certain poems in my new poetry book reminding me of that other incident and the novel coming out soon (the name of a character) AND certain tweets I was seeing on Twitter by certain people who know them. I mean, these three things came clashing together and was like a huge fireball knocking me off my feet! I spent a long time pacing back and forth in the kitchen arguing with myself about this. WHY even bring that up? WHY even make this an issue? Why now? What is the point of even trying to find out if that was them or not?

So I ran right past two celebrities. Big deal! I’ve done that before! I’d run right past people or SEE people then later, I’d be like, Hey, wasn’t that so-and-so? I used to live in L.A. and the L.A. area, so I’ve seen celebrities before. Sometimes without even recognizing them. And I saw them in the California desert, too. (You can’t live near Palm Springs and NOT see a celebrity or two.) The same goes with people I DO know. It's, like, later on, I'll be like, "Hey, wasn't that....?"

So I asked myself, why is this important? And, anyway, the New Kids on the Block have crossed my path before. Their tour bus went by the family car YEARS ago when we were in the process of making our one of many moves from one place to another, and I'm pretty darn sure I saw one of them (and Biscuit!) in Connecticut many years ago.

It would not be the first time we’ve gone right past each other without any recognition going on. (For the record, I am not one of those people who spend hours staring at their pictures, and I don’t go all crazy when I see celebrities. To me, they are just another guy or just another girl – though someone with exceptional talent so you don’t exactly fuck around with them!)

So why did THIS particular incident matter now?

I didn’t want to bring this up now. I have a lot going on right now. I have a lot more coming up real soon and even MORE stuff going on next year. Plus, I have issues going on with my son. So it’s not like I have the time to waste on trivial things.

And, anyway, that was from 2006! Almost 6 years ago! They probably don’t even remember it!

Which is why I decided to end my quest to find out. Yes, I DID decide to follow through on finding out, because in the end, I decided it was time to get an answer once and for all. This has been hanging over me for years and it’s time to just drop all that. I really do have stuff coming up in my life where I can’t be dwelling on these little puzzles from my past. I’ll need to be 100% focused and 100% in the moment. I consider 2013 my year to get ready for 2014, and part of getting ready is finding closure with unfinished business and resolving old issues and stuff. So I decided to try and find out.

Then, as I asked around, I started feeling silly. I was like, 2006? SERIOUSLY????

Now, chances are pretty good that WAS them. So, I am going to just tell myself, you know what? Yes, that WAS Jordan and Jonathan Knight! Dang! I missed them again!

And in the off, off, off, OFF chance that they read this post: Guys, I am sorry I didn’t recognize you. I think you guys rock! And hopefully one day, when our paths cross yet again, I WILL recognize you guys and maybe get to say hello.

There. My conscience is clean. Case closed! Now I will move on from THAT thing in my past and focus on other stuff.

I have a feeling that they have, too.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Jennifer's twelfth birthday

Today my daughter turned 12 years old. I can't believe it's been twelve years since I gave birth to this little girl. She has definitely surprised and amazed us all with her talents, her zest for life and her can-do attitude! She has been inspiring and I feel so blessed this wonder kid is my daughter. She's definitely made her mark in art and writing, and now she's moving towards making videos and performing music! And now she is 12. This is her last year of her childhood. The last year she will be a kid. Next year, she becomes a teenager. Wow. How swiftly the years have gone by!

Because Jen's birthday landed on a school day this year, we went with our usual plan: A private, family party on her special day, then a party with her friends on the weekend. Unfortunately, her dad and I are both sick with a cold, so we are trying to figure out how the party with friends is going to turn out. Even so, I gave today my best effort, still going out to buy her gifts and get her cake even though I felt lousy.

Because Jen likes My Little Pony, and because this is her last year of childhood and may think My Little Pony is "too babyish" when she's a teen, I decided to make My Little Pony her party theme this year. Got her a My Little Pony cake and card, and Jesse bought her a My Little Pony movie. But she also got a Hilfiger hoodie, two books, and a gift card to Barnes & Noble. The books were one of the new Warrior Cats books she's been wanting, as well as a new Doctor Who book that is a character encyclopedia. She was sooo excited about the books when she saw them. She said they were "two of my favorite kinds of books." She was very happy with her presents. I'm glad she was happy with her presents. 

It was a nice little private party. I can't wait to see what Year 12 will bring us in the life of this young supergirl who isn't afraid to go after her dreams!